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The Independent Culture
What do you get when you cross the American psyche with a stand- up comedian? A comedy self-help book. Rich Hall (below) has taken time off from the stand-up circuit to pen Self-Help for the Bleak, a send-up of all those "read this book and your life will never be the same again" works so beloved of Stateside psychobabblers. "I'm just sick of these books," he said on Late Night With David Letterman recently. " You walk to the book-stall and there's this raft of self-help books. People just buy them and think, 'well, I bought a self-help book, that's a good start; that's enough for today'." Hall's caring, sharing note on the back cover sets the tone: "Though he is supremely unqualified to be dispensing advice, Rich understands your reading this book cover is a silent howl for help." The book contains many soothing palliatives for that howl. "How to find a therapist. Try the phone book. Avoid the ones at the top of the list like Aaron the Therapist, Attaboy Therapy or All Points Therapy. They're just trying to get the lazy customers." Hall has been a writer on the Letterman show, and his stand-up act cuts with the same sharpness as the chat-show host. He wonders at the US National Debt: "Who do we owe five trillion dollars to anyway? How come they're not calling up? If I owed you five trillion dollars, wouldn't you pretty much be on the phone every day?" Catch him now before we lose him to the psychotherapy circuit.

Rich Hall is at the Cochrane Theatre, Southampton Row, WC1 (0171 242 7040) 7.15pm tonight and tomorrow.

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